A Grand Overkill for Andrew Friedman

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It’s readily forgotten that when dollar figures for sports/entertainment people are discussed, it’s not the difference between 80 cents and a dollar; it’s the difference between $80 million and $100 million.

The “oh, just give it to him” attitude is ludicrous when broken down and explained in the way that it should be explained.

It’s a lot of money.

So when you see media people and bloggers saying that Astros new owner Jim Crane should just give Andrew Friedman whatever he wants to take over as their GM, it’s necessary to step back and realize exactly what that might entail.

Ken Rosenthal suggests the following package in this piece:

Offer Friedman autonomy, the title of his choosing, a five-year, $20 million contract, maybe even equity in the club.

Autonomy? No GM/club president has full autonomy. None. They work for someone and have to have their decisions approved; many times there’s a rubber stamp, but it’s not guaranteed. Nor should it be. Everyone needs a check and balance.

Title of his choosing? How about Emperor?

$4 million a year?


Just stop it.

Friedman’s a good executive and a very bright man, but to think that he or anyone else is worth that type of compensation is ignoring the history of recent years in which “geniuses” were hired to fix floundering organizations and didn’t; couldn’t.

The idea that Friedman is going to walk into Houston and wave his hand to suddenly turn the Astros into a carbon copy of the Rays is idiotic.

Considering the number of “star” GMs who were hired with much fanfare or had lusty tales written about them and have been proven to be mediocre, unlucky or both, it makes zero sense to overpay Friedman regardless of the perception that he’s a miracle worker.

The Rays had some pieces in place when Friedman arrived; they took advantage of their status as a perennial last place team to accumulate high draft picks; they made some brilliant trades and free agent signings; and they were lucky.

Everyone is working from the same manual now; it’s not as if Friedman scaled the mountains of Tibet and discovered a cave and where lay hidden the “great secret in book form” to building a baseball team without any money. The numbers are there for all to see—everyone’s using stats and similar techniques as the Rays have—and it’s not going to be a journey from Tampa to Houston with that magical book in tow to access and implement at will.

I would never, ever give a piece of the team to any executive.


That’s simply too valuable to give away for an unknown.

And even Friedman is an unknown.

Rosenthal’s right when he says that the Astros have so many issues that it’s going to take at least 3 years before they’re respectable again. They accumulated a few pieces in trades fired GM Ed Wade made in getting rid of Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn; they have other veterans to trade in Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers. But they have to wait out the contract of Carlos Lee; the farm system is barren and suffering from years of neglect; they must try to look respectable on the field hoping that Brett Wallace and J.A. Happ grow into their abilities.

There are many qualified GM candidates who have statistical know-how, scouting skills or both.

Giving the keys to the store to Friedman is a way to placate the media and it would be a grand overkill that Crane should ignore in favor of hiring someone who’ll work under a reasonable salary without deranged benefits.

There are many of them out there who can do the job.


2 thoughts on “A Grand Overkill for Andrew Friedman

  1. No to nitpick the article, but you yourself made your case for Freidman by describing what he’s done since arriving halfway through the article. He re-did the player development for Tampa, made some excellent trades, continues to make excellent and shrewd FA signings yet the team continues to succeed.

    Just what Tampa did in 2011 is proof enough: they let go almost their entire bullpen and all their FAs, cut payroll from (roughly) $70M to $40M yet still made the playoffs in a division where the Red Sox spent 4-times Tampa’s payroll and the Yankees spent 5-times their payroll. Read Jonah Keri’s book “The extra 2%” for further proof of Friedman’s excellence in turning around that franchise. It wasn’t just about player moves; its about player development, management of the franchise, customer/fan relations and promoting your brand.

    In my book, Friedman is absolutely the best GM in the business. So the question is, if you’re the astros, what is that worth?

    Houston has the worst farm system in the majors and finished with the worst record in the majors. They have bad contracts, made poor trades of what MLB talent they did have, and are devoid of a plan. Friedman would make an excellent choice. Calling him an “unknown” really devalues what he’s done in south florida over the past few years.

    1. Friedman’s a great choice but history has shown that the big GM hires—apart from Pat Gillick—have been iffy on their second jobs.
      Every situation is different and there’s no direct connection between that and what Friedman would or wouldn’t do with the Astros.
      I’d hire him, but not for $20 million and absolutely not with a piece of the team.
      I read the Extra 2% and reviewed it.
      I gave credit to Friedman for what he did and also qualified that which he had little-to-no part in like the multiple high draft picks they accumulated by being so terrible.
      There’s very little interest in the Rays in Tampa, hence no pressure to make moves they’d think twice about if they were the Yankees or Red Sox. It’s easier to be cold and ruthless when there aren’t 10 media people following you around on a daily basis and all-sports radio dissecting every move a GM makes.
      Houston is a better baseball town than Tampa; the expectations and attention will be multiplied. How he’d react to that scrutiny is an unknown.

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